Supabase vs. Firebase - which one is better?

Supabase as an alternative to Firebase?

Is Supabase your new Firebase alternative?

The implementation of PostgresSQL on Supabase also makes it highly accessible and low-code projects. What is low-code? Low code is a growing trend and software approach that's supported by an infrastructure that enables minimal coding to build fully functional applications.

The interface for PostgresSQL on Supabase is akin to working on a spreadsheet, with the ability to easily add, edit, and update data in a no-code manner. Meanwhile, there is also an SQL editor interface that lets you create tables, functions, joins, and whatever else is required for your data needs.

Firebase features vs. Supabase features

The idea behind Firebase and Supabase are the same - give developers the ability to create apps as quickly as possible. But which of these two services are better at it?

Overall, Firebase has more features and functionality. Supabase, in contrast, only supports core features of the database, managed authentication, and storage - with functions coming soon.

In contrast, Firebase has the added benefit of integrated monitoring through Crashlytics and Google Analytics, A/B testing, cloud messaging, and in-app messaging for mobile apps. There is also the option of using Firebase extensions to leverage popular third-party integrations such as Stripe payments and invoicing, Mailchimp, MessageBird messaging, and search with Algolia.

Supabase's condensed offering can feel like a drawback. However, due to Firebase being integrated with Google Cloud's ecosystem, it can be harder to integrate external services that haven't been pre-integrated. Not only that, the myriad of services available in addition to Firebase's core features can also be somewhat distracting. The learning curve for Firebase is also higher, mostly due to it being a proprietary database.

Supabase, in contrast, gives you the three pillars required - that is, a database, authentication, and storage - to build an app and keeps your project focused on launch speed without locking you in.

When it comes to interfaces, Supabase is also much easier to use. It is focused and clean, with clear calls to action. Firebase can feel overwhelming, especially on the landing page where there are numerous calls to action, information modules, and announcements.

Firebase pricing comparison with Supabase

Both Firebase and Supabase have a free tier that is generous. However, the major difference between Firebase and Supabase is how data transfer is charged.

Firebase charges are based on a per-call basis, while Supabase pricing is based on overall data transfer. While per-call may sound great because you are only paying for what you're using, it can easily add up if your app is not properly optimized.

For example, in Firebase, each collection returned is counted as a call. This means that if your data returns a collection list of 10 items, this equates to 10 calls in total. If there are 10 people on a view that implement this call, then it is 100 database queries. If you scale this up to 1000 users, then your number of calls explodes rather quickly. If we think of our application as a whole, it can easily find itself up to a few thousand, if not ten thousand database queries for just a single user traversing through your app.

Supabase's pricing module is much better for data. In the beginning, an MVP app's data is often not mature enough yet to be ready for optimization. Database charges based on data transfer make it easier to work with, in addition to being more familiar for many of us. We do not need to worry too much about how many connections we are making, but more about the size of the data being transferred.

The wrap-up: Supabase for your next MVP project

Overall, if you're looking for a platform that will allow you to build as quickly as possible without distraction and frills, then Supabase is the way to go.

It is simple to use, has a minimalist approach to its interface, great pricing that won't burn your pocket as your app scales, an integrated authentication system, and storage space for your single-page app. This means that if you're a frontend developer, you can easily create an app without the learning curve that comes with creating a backend from scratch.

Integrating with Supabase is API-based. The documentation is easier to navigate and mentally digest than Firebase's, making the process more intuitive whilst remaining low-code.

If you have a weekend project in mind and find Firebase too overwhelming to work with, Supabase might be the right platform for you.

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